All in the Details
By taking their time to thoughtfully move through every aspect—big or small—of the design process, these Mountain Brook homeowners saw their vision come to life.
The living room’s calm, neutral palette lets the beauty of the wooded backyard shine through the large windows. “Having all of the windows looking out into the woods makes it feel like you’re up in the treetops,” the homeowner says. “Architect Hank Long did a great job of letting the outdoors in.”
Many times, the perfect home is found in the details. Architect Hank Long of Henry Sprott Long & Associates and designer Jenny Edwards of J. Edwards Interiors collaborated on a new home for clients requesting thoughtful details and personal, sophisticated style. The first issue to tackle: The home would have to be built on a steep slope. “We had to make sure the house didn’t look out of place. It needed to look as though it was supposed to be part of the site,” Hank says. “We spent a lot of time walking the property to determine how the plan should develop.”
The homeowners discussed every detail of the exterior with Hank to ensure the 5,400-square-foot home met their vision, which was inspired by early-American architecture with a nod to French Provincial style. Painted brick offers subtle texture and cedar shingles add a sense of age. Working shutters underscore authenticity, and a limestone surround for the front door stands as a prominent marquee. Inside, the homeowners wanted to play up the wooded backyard views from as many rooms as possible. “The floorplan was all about making sure the house took full advantage of its beautiful surroundings,” Hank says. “All of the rooms with the most traffic—the kitchen, the porch, the sitting room, the master bedroom—have the advantage of that view.” In the living room, waxed woods gleam against the rough cut limestone fireplace and chimney block. Fabrics are soft velvets and silks with feminine motifs.
Working with Jenny more than a year before construction started—and purchasing most furniture before construction was even close to
completion—the homeowners were able to ensure every interior design detail suited their specific tastes and worked with their architectural plan. “We wanted the house itself to be more traditional but for the décor to have a bit of an edge,” says the homeowner. “It needed to be a comfortable, functional home for our family use but also good for entertaining. I knew Jenny could translate that into a beautiful design.”
To keep the décor comfortable and casual with hints of elegance, Jenny focused on functional fabric choices and modern pieces mixed with timeless antiques to give an unexpected edge. “We also wanted to keep most of the interiors neutral to help put the focus on seeing the expanse of nature through the windows,” Jenny says. “We then added in a few pops of color in pillows and accents.”
The result of the meticulous planning proved more than worth the effort. “The homeowners’ strong attention to detail is shown throughout the entire house—and it really makes the place special,” Jenny says.
ABOVE To enhance the appeal of the home’s front entrance, a prominent limestone detail was added around the door. A parterre garden connects the house to the motor court, which is made of gravel rather than concrete to give more of a garden-like appearance. “We spent a lot of time thinking about how to make the view of the front as pleasant from the outside as it is inside,” Hank says.
Architect Hank Long's tips for building a custom home
A local architect since the late 1970s, Hank Long of Henry Sprott Long & Associates knows a thing or two about building in Birmingham. Here, he offers up tips from his years of experience for those thinking about taking on a custom home build.
1) Secure your site before drafting a final floorplan. “Early on in the design stages, a great deal of time is spent figuring out how the house will fit properly on the lot. The homeowners need to have a particular lot finalized to allow us to examine it and walk it,” says Hank.
2) Think through a basic planning program early on. While Hank suggests waiting to finalize a floorplan until after the lot is purchased, he does recommend figuring out the types of rooms desired. “Do you want four or five bedrooms? Do you want a bath for each bedroom? These are things the homeowners need to talk through so the design team knows what’s required in the ultimate plan,” he explains.
3) Know what you like—or don’t like. “Bring anything—whether it be a single photo, pages from magazines, or photos from Houzz or Pinterest—that will help your architect understand the design desired,” Hank says. “The most successful homes are the ones where homeowners bring examples of their likes and dislikes to the table in the beginning.”
ABOVE LEFT The kitchen’s open space is a popular gathering spot. The hand-applied soft French blue finish on the island brings color to the room and is one of the homeowners’ favorite aspects of the house.
ABOVE RIGHT The homeowners wanted to keep some formality to the dining room, so designer Jenny Edwards chose a reproduction antique dining table and sideboard and then incorporated antique pieces such as the Louis Philippe antique mirror and sconces. To temper the formality, Jenny chose the casual look of slipcovered chairs.
ABOVE The garden adds a surprise element to the front of the house and helps disguise the steep slope of the property. The homeowners worked with landscape architect Blake Segars of Atlanta to design the space, which includes American and English boxwoods, espalier, hydrangeas, and a variety of kitchen herbs. “When we decided to build on a steep lot, I was very concerned about having space to grow some herbs and a few vegetables, but Blake came up with a garden design that fits,” says the homeowner. “It’s not a huge garden, but it gives me enough space to grow what I want.”
Interior design: Jenny Edwards, J. Edwards Interiors, LLC 205.870.5100; Sofa, club chairs, Italian sofa, dining chairs: Lee Industries through Circa Interiors and Antiques 205.868.9199; Ottomans, drapes, chandelier: Through J. Edwards Interiors, LLC; Rug: 18th Street Orientals 205.870.3838; Pillows: Circa Interiors and Antiques; Dining room: Rug: Hiltz Lauber Flooring 205.879.3455; Dining table: The Nest Antiques 205.870.1264; Sideboard: Kings House Antiques 205.320.2535; Dining chairs: Lee Industries through Circa Interiors and Antiques; Pillows: Too, Unique Pillow Accents 205.862.8060; Mirror: Interiors at Pepper Place 205.323.2817; Chandelier: Through J. Edwards Interiors, LLC. Foyer: commode: Henhouse Antiques 205.918.0505; Kitchen: Hardware: Brandino Brass 205.978.8900; Stools: Through J. Edwards Interiors, LLC; Paint Colors: Living Room, Dining Room, and Kitchen Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Manchester Tan HC-81, House Color Body: Benjamin Moore Bleeker Beige HC-80, Trim Color and Shutter Color: Benjamin Moore Squirrel Tail 1476, Kitchen Cabinets: Benjamin Moore Muskoka Trail 974.